President Trump has been on a pardoning spree lately and while some of those he’s chosen to help legitimately deserve it, one can’t help but wonder why a man infamous for lack of ability to empathize with other human beings is suddenly displaying something that looks uncannily like compassion.
On his way to the G-7 summit, a diplomatic event which he is sure to botch, Trump stopped to talk to reporters. He floated the idea of pardoning legendary boxer Muhammad Ali, a man who doesn’t even need a pardon because the Supreme Court overturned his conviction and because, on top of that, President Jimmy Carter issued a blanket amnesty for those who avoided the Vietnam War draft.
When asked a question about his recent absurd assertion that he has the right to pardon himself, Trump revealed the reason behind his recent pardons without even meaning to.
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“No, I’m not above the law. I never want anybody to be above the law, but the pardons are a very positive thing for a president. I think you see the way I’m using them and yes I do have an absolute right to pardon myself but I’ll never have to do it because I didn’t do anything wrong and everybody knows it,” Trump said.
The part worth focusing on, besides where he once again erroneously claimed that he can pardon himself, is when he said: “I think you see the way I’m using them.” Trump was calling attention to the fact that his recent pardons have been either for innocent people, or people for whom he thinks the law unfairly punished.
Trump wants us to think he only uses his pardon for good so that when he inevitably tries to pardon himself he can claim that he is just another innocent victim of an unjust system. It’s an attempt to make America associate Trump pardons with justice. There is a deeply cynical calculus at work beneath the surface, and he accidentally clued us into it.
It should go without saying that Trump cannot be allowed to pardon himself, because the moment we accept a president excusing his own crimes is the moment we morph from a democracy into a dictatorship.
Trump suggests he will pardon Muhammad Ali, who was convicted in 1967 for his refusal to serve in the Vietnam War, which Trump avoided with five draft deferments. Then Trump says he has an "absolute right to pardon myself." pic.twitter.com/LBVTmlMsTp
— Keith Boykin (@keithboykin) June 8, 2018